After the heart and the brain, which would you say is the most important organ in our amazing and incredibly fragile human body? If you were a poet you would be inclined to say the eyes because without them, you could not receive inspiration from the world’s accomplishments and tragedies. A politician might disagree. He or she would argue that the mouth is the next in line given that without it, you would be hard-pressed to express your ideas with passion and conviction. Take a second to think about it objectively. Which organ in your body do you think would do more for it than the brain and the heart? How many of you thought about those two things that look like beans?
That’s right, our kidneys are arguably on the same level of importance as the brain and the heart. They are responsible for filtering out some of the most damaging toxins as well as helping us stay hydrated. Not only that, our kidneys help ensure that blood pressure remains at acceptable levels while also keeping tables on the acids our body produces to make sure everything gets broken down appropriately. It’s pretty clear that our kidneys are essential to our survival.
So, why do we take them for granted and not take care of them like we should? At the moment, at least 10 percent of the global population has some form of chronic kidney disease and a relatively small amount of them has access to affordable care. Those who are unfortunate enough to have their kidneys fail on them, almost always resort to dialysis. That solution is usually the most expensive, time-consuming, and inconvenient one. Until a couple of years, patients with chronic kidney diseases had no choice. They were forced to either go to a hospital or acquire a machine to get their daily dialysis. Nowadays, however, there seems to be a ray of hope on the horizon.
The wearable artificial kidney (W.A.K.) has proven to be a viable option for those looking to live a life with kidney failure. Dr. Victor Gura, perhaps the world’s most renowned nephrologist has made incredible strides towards helping people find a more suitable and convenient alternative to dialysis. Joe Cosgrove values this and is here to let you know how Dr. Gura’s WAK is already changing the industry and how dialysis is faced, even though there is still much work to be done.
Hope of leading a more normal life
Besides the obvious health benefits of getting much-needed dialysis, the WAK will immediately help those who wear it improve their quality of life. Going to a hospital to sit while a dialysis machine works is magic, is time-consuming and if that weren’t enough you have to adapt your life around the dialysis. With a wearable kidney, patients would be able to go about their daily routines while still getting their dialysis thanks to the apparatus’ size and ergonomic fit. Knowing that you don’t have to go to a hospital or stay at home to get dialysis will immediately open up possibilities to do other things, without overdoing it of course, that you otherwise wouldn’t have time for.
More affordable treatment
Given that dialysis is a continuous process which often is perpetual, treatment is expensive and sadly not everyone has the means or the health insurance to cover the costs. Even though, research into developing the wearable kidney has well surpassed 30 million dollars, it has provided the possibility of reducing the costs associated to getting dialysis at a hospital or at one’s home. The WAK will allow patients to save on the medical costs associated to being connected to a dialysis machine and to everyday expenses such as transportation and food that result in having to move from one place to another to get treatment or from having acquired a dialysis machine to get treatment at home.
Clinical trials on humans have proven to be promising
Given that the number of trials on human patients is a handful at the time, the results have been remarkable. The use of the Wearable Artificial Kidney demonstrated that it is just as effective as regular dialysis across a number of measurements such as solute clearance and the removal of fluids. As more studies on humans are conducted, the more chances of the WAK becoming a very viable and affordable kidney treatment alternative.
The device has not reached its potential yet. It’s important to note that the use and trial on humans has only recently been put into action. It will be a number of years before investigators can truly measure the device’s effectiveness. So far, they have a small sample with a relatively short time frame, but the evidence shows that there is a reason to firmly believe that a wearable artificial kidney will change the dialysis world. AWAK looks to be one of the most promising players in the future of this industry.
* Featured Image courtesy of Jim Forest at Flickr.com